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Looking to youth to make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality

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It isn’t often that my morning starts with a speech from a President. And by often I mean never. So when Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner, kicked off the 2015 International Conference on Sustainable Development (IC-SD) at Columbia University in New York City with a moving keynote, I knew my day was going to be anything but typical.

To be fair, I wasn’t expecting typical. I was expecting something new, something very exciting, and as so many of the distinguished speakers throughout the conference put it “something of a tipping point.” You see, the main objective of IC-SD was to get started. Specifically to get started implementing the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals that the UN will adopt on September 25. To paraphrase Jeffrey Sachs, these 17 global goals come at a critical inflection point for us, because we are in a period of technological revolution when it is now possible to harness economic development, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability.

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Knowing full well the enablement role our industry plays in driving this revolution and being part of one of the largest ICT organizations in the world, I was eagerly looking forward to the session on Mobilizing the Private Sector for Sustainable Development where our Chairman and CEO, Hans Vestberg, was a panelist. While fellow panelists, representing other large global organizations, provided insightful and valuable dialogue, Hans gave one of the more succinct and direct answers of the day when asked how Ericsson is going to meet the objective of implementing the SDG’s: Hans referenced the freshly printed research study that Ericsson co-authored with The Earth Institute at Columbia University appropriately titled “ICT & SDGs” which can be read in its entirety here.

As day one of the IC-SD wrapped up and I prepared to leave Lerner Hall at Columbia, I glanced through my notes. I recognized patterns created by words such as: sustainable, equality, technology, ICT, smart-cities, health, education, mobile banking…and other words I expected to see. However, as I mentioned at the start, today was anything but typical. The prevalent theme championed by nearly all speakers was youth! This to me was the most exciting part of the conference because it indicated that we really are at the beginning of something big. Our “earliest” adopters of technology and fellow global citizens will lead us towards the achievement of the 17 SDGs over the next 15 years.

It is no longer a question if we are moving towards Sustainable Development; it is now just a matter of pace.

Written by Lev Noryan

Lev Noryan is the Program Manager for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility (S&CR) for Ericsson Region North America. He is part of Ericsson’s global S&CR team focused on Technology for Good projects, energy efficiency initiatives, and responsible business practices with internal and external stakeholders in the United States and Canada.

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